Scouting Yankees Prospect #6: Slade Heathcott

The New York Yankees selected outfielder Slade Heathcott in the first round of the 2009 MLB out of Texas High School in Texas. While his first full season numbers last year might not reveal it, he's a rare five-tool talent that has the potential to be a budding top prospect and eventual star down the road.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Slade Heathcott
Position: Centerfield
DOB: September 28, 1990
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 190
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

"Pretty much everything everybody says about him - he's got tools that other people just don't have," Charleston RiverDogs broadcaster Danny Reed told PinstripesPlus.com. "He can hit, he can run, he can steal bases, and you can tell he's got an aptitude and an instinct for this game that you just don't see at this level."

His overall numbers in 2010 might not prove that just yet, hitting just .258 with two home runs and 15 stolen bases, but he showed flashes of things most baseball players simply can't do at any level.

"He made one throw from the warning track in Riley Park on the fly to [Rob] Lyerly at third [base] and got the guy tagging from second," Reed added. "He [also] tagged on a fly ball to right, going from first to second.

"That's something guys just don't do at this level. Some guys don't even do that at the Major League level. Certainly he's got the makeup, he's just got to keep going with it."

While nearly everyone who watched him on a daily basis couldn't help but be excited about his outstanding abilities, Heathcott himself wasn't all too pleased with what was essentially his professional debut season.

"It went alright," Heathcott said. "It definitely ended up being a lot more mental than I had expected. It was definitely a mental grind. My body ended up holding up pretty well even though I had my shoulder [injury] and a couple of bumps and bruises here and there.

"I don't think I hit near as well as I could, but I went over some film throughout the year and learned some not-to-dos so hopefully next year I'll hit a lot better.

"I don't think I hit very well. We looked at my swing path and I was just in and out of the zone all year. I learned some lessons on how to save some energy and things like that, so I thought [in that respect] it was a good first year."

Part of his problems last year was trying to become a leadoff type hitter to make better use of his world class speed. The other thing that affected his game was playing through his first season with a separated shoulder that eventually required surgery this offseason.

"I chose to play with [the shoulder] the way it was," said Heathcott, who makes no excuses. "I kind of knew I needed [surgery] the whole time. I was just trying to play through it and then when I got to Instructs I couldn't swing the bat hardly so I just decided to get it checked out and ended up needing the surgery."

And that's the truly scary part about Heathcott, who also had knee surgery prior to beginning his professional career - he has shown amazing tools and yet he hasn't nearly been 100 percent since joining the organization.

"The speed is obviously there with him getting out of the box but he also has some power," Charleston manager and former big leaguer Greg Colbrunn said. "His power numbers aren't to the point where you'd say 'this guy has a lot of power', but he does have power in his bat and that's going to develop the more time he plays.

"Two or three years down the line he's going to be able to take advantage of it. His explosiveness though, getting out of the box, his jumps, the way he plays the game, his arm, that's what is most impressive about him."

So while it's easy for the passive observer to quickly dismiss Heathcott's abilities based on his first-year numbers, it's not nearly as easy a task for those who know him best.

"He made a lot of progress first year out," Colbrunn added. "He came a long way. He got three-quarters of a year experience at this level and made some adjustments. He got experience and he's starting to figure it out.

"With a young kid like that it's going to take some time, but the improvements he made over the course of the season were pretty impressive. He's got all the ability in the world. The sky's the limit for him."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2010

Charleston

.258

298

16

2

30

48

15

42

101

.359

.352

2009

GCL Yankees

.100

10

0

0

0

0

0

1

2

.182

.100



Batting and Power. Heathcott is at his absolute best when he uses his short, compact swing and sits back to wait on pitches. He has fantastic bat speed that allows him to catch up to nearly any fastball and it's also where he generates a lot of his power. His power potential is big league average overall, but above average for a centerfielder. He has shown an ability to be both patient and aggressive in the batter's box, which is a good sign for a young hitter. He struck out 101 times in just 298 at-bats last year, but scouts don't seem too concerned because a lot of them came at the expense of working the counts in an effort to see more pitches to become more of a leadoff type.

Base Running and Speed. Heathcott is a plus-plus runner who gets by right now on pure speed and athleticism. He still has a lot to learn about reaching pitchers' moves better and picking his spots, but he is flat-out electric on the base paths, especially taking the extra bag [he nearly scored from second on a sacrifice fly to centerfield in one game]. Once he gets more comfortable, he will have some impressive stolen base totals.

Defense. Heathcott is an elite defensive centerfielder whose great range only pales in comparison to his outstanding arm[he threw 95 mph off the mound in high school]. In due time and with more experience, he's a Gold Glove caliber centerfielder in waiting.

Projection. Heathcott's tools are off the charts, especially his speed and arm strength. What makes his tools even better, however, is his ultra-competitive drive, all-out hustle, and aggressive style of play. While those are huge positives, his propensity to throw his body around with reckless abandon does make him susceptible to injury. He has some work to do to become a leadoff hitter, most notably becoming more patient at the plate, and because of that he might have some growing pains in his ascension towards the big leagues. If he can conserve his body and remain healthy, the sky is the limit for him as a potential budding star in centerfield. With Brett Gardner speed, Johnny Damon-like power potential, and a Vladmir Guerrero-like arm, there's simply nobody like him.

ETA. 2013. Heathcott should be healthy to open up the 2011 season. While he could stand a little more seasoning back in Charleston akin to Austin Jackson a few years ago, like Jackson he should seem ample time in the Florida State League in his second full season.

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\r\n \r\n\r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Slade Heathcott
\r\nPosition: Centerfield
\r\nDOB: September 28, 1990
\r\nHeight: 6'1\"
\r\nWeight: 190
\r\nBats: Left
\r\nThrows: Left
\r\n
\r\n\"Pretty much everything everybody says about him - he's got tools that other people just don't have,\" Charleston RiverDogs broadcaster Danny Reed told PinstripesPlus.com. \"He can hit, he can run, he can steal bases, and you can tell he's got an aptitude and an instinct for this game that you just don't see at this level.\"
\r\n
\r\nHis overall numbers in 2010 might not prove that just yet, hitting just .258 with two home runs and 15 stolen bases, but he showed flashes of things most baseball players simply can't do at any level.
\r\n
\r\n\"He made one throw from the warning track in Riley Park on the fly to [Rob] Lyerly at third [base] and got the guy tagging from second,\" Reed added. \"He [also] tagged on a fly ball to right, going from first to second.
\r\n
\r\n\"That's something guys just don't do at this level. Some guys don't even do that at the Major League level. Certainly he's got the makeup, he's just got to keep going with it.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile nearly everyone who watched him on a daily basis couldn't help but be excited about his outstanding abilities, Heathcott himself wasn't all too pleased with what was essentially his professional debut season.
\r\n
\r\n\"It went alright,\" Heathcott said. \"It definitely ended up being a lot more mental than I had expected. It was definitely a mental grind. My body ended up holding up pretty well even though I had my shoulder [injury] and a couple of bumps and bruises here and there.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't think I hit near as well as I could, but I went over some film throughout the year and learned some not-to-dos so hopefully next year I'll hit a lot better.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't think I hit very well. We looked at my swing path and I was just in and out of the zone all year. I learned some lessons on how to save some energy and things like that, so I thought [in that respect] it was a good first year.\"
\r\n
\r\nPart of his problems last year was trying to become a leadoff type hitter to make better use of his world class speed. The other thing that affected his game was playing through his first season with a separated shoulder that eventually required surgery this offseason.
\r\n
\r\n\"I chose to play with [the shoulder] the way it was,\" said Heathcott, who makes no excuses. \"I kind of knew I needed [surgery] the whole time. I was just trying to play through it and then when I got to Instructs I couldn't swing the bat hardly so I just decided to get it checked out and ended up needing the surgery.\"
\r\n
\r\nAnd that's the truly scary part about Heathcott, who also had knee surgery prior to beginning his professional career - he has shown amazing tools and yet he hasn't nearly been 100 percent since joining the organization.
\r\n
\r\n\"The speed is obviously there with him getting out of the box but he also has some power,\" Charleston manager and former big leaguer Greg Colbrunn said. \"His power numbers aren't to the point where you'd say 'this guy has a lot of power', but he does have power in his bat and that's going to develop the more time he plays.
\r\n
\r\n\"Two or three years down the line he's going to be able to take advantage of it. His explosiveness though, getting out of the box, his jumps, the way he plays the game, his arm, that's what is most impressive about him.\"
\r\n
\r\nSo while it's easy for the passive observer to quickly dismiss Heathcott's abilities based on his first-year numbers, it's not nearly as easy a task for those who know him best.
\r\n
\r\n\"He made a lot of progress first year out,\" Colbrunn added. \"He came a long way. He got three-quarters of a year experience at this level and made some adjustments. He got experience and he's starting to figure it out.
\r\n
\r\n\"With a young kid like that it's going to take some time, but the improvements he made over the course of the season were pretty impressive. He's got all the ability in the world. The sky's the limit for him.\"
\r\n
\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
\r\n

\r\n Year

\r\n

\r\n Team

\r\n

\r\n AVG

\r\n

\r\n AB

\r\n

\r\n 2B

\r\n

\r\n HR

\r\n

\r\n RBI

\r\n

\r\n R

\r\n

\r\n SB

\r\n

\r\n BB

\r\n

\r\n SO

\r\n

\r\n OBP

\r\n

\r\n SLG

\r\n

\r\n 2010

\r\n

\r\n Charleston

\r\n

\r\n .258

\r\n

\r\n 298

\r\n

\r\n 16

\r\n

\r\n 2

\r\n

\r\n 30

\r\n

\r\n 48

\r\n

\r\n 15

\r\n

\r\n 42

\r\n

\r\n 101

\r\n

\r\n .359

\r\n

\r\n .352

\r\n

\r\n 2009

\r\n

\r\n GCL Yankees

\r\n

\r\n .100

\r\n

\r\n 10

\r\n

\r\n 0

\r\n

\r\n 0

\r\n

\r\n 0

\r\n

\r\n 0

\r\n

\r\n 0

\r\n

\r\n 1

\r\n

\r\n 2

\r\n

\r\n .182

\r\n

\r\n .100


\r\n
\r\nBatting and Power. Heathcott is at his absolute best when he uses his short, compact swing and sits back to wait on pitches. He has fantastic bat speed that allows him to catch up to nearly any fastball and it's also where he generates a lot of his power. His power potential is big league average overall, but above average for a centerfielder. He has shown an ability to be both patient and aggressive in the batter's box, which is a good sign for a young hitter. He struck out 101 times in just 298 at-bats last year, but scouts don't seem too concerned because a lot of them came at the expense of working the counts in an effort to see more pitches to become more of a leadoff type.
\r\n
\r\nBase Running and Speed. Heathcott is a plus-plus runner who gets by right now on pure speed and athleticism. He still has a lot to learn about reaching pitchers' moves better and picking his spots, but he is flat-out electric on the base paths, especially taking the extra bag [he nearly scored from second on a sacrifice fly to centerfield in one game]. Once he gets more comfortable, he will have some impressive stolen base totals.
\r\n
\r\nDefense. Heathcott is an elite defensive centerfielder whose great range only pales in comparison to his outstanding arm[he threw 95 mph off the mound in high school]. In due time and with more experience, he's a Gold Glove caliber centerfielder in waiting.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. Heathcott's tools are off the charts, especially his speed and arm strength. What makes his tools even better, however, is his ultra-competitive drive, all-out hustle, and aggressive style of play. While those are huge positives, his propensity to throw his body around with reckless abandon does make him susceptible to injury. He has some work to do to become a leadoff hitter, most notably becoming more patient at the plate, and because of that he might have some growing pains in his ascension towards the big leagues. If he can conserve his body and remain healthy, the sky is the limit for him as a potential budding star in centerfield. With Brett Gardner speed, Johnny Damon-like power potential, and a Vladmir Guerrero-like arm, there's simply nobody like him.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2013. Heathcott should be healthy to open up the 2011 season. While he could stand a little more seasoning back in Charleston akin to Austin Jackson a few years ago, like Jackson he should seem ample time in the Florida State League in his second full season.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

Are you a monthly or 3-month subscriber to PinstripesPlus.com? Why not get two months free AND get 4 issues of our PinstripesPlus Magazine included by becoming an annual subscriber? Upgrade today to get the most out of your subscription.

\r\n

\r\n

Become an annual subscriber today!

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